4 Reasons Why We Should Read Every day!

little girl reading.pngReading is something we learn from a very early age. We begin by reciting out ABC’s then moving onto simple stories before we finally open up our first book. It’s an activity that unfortunately doesn’t last for some. Where many become avid readers, which is great, some fall by the wayside and don’t pick up a book or switch on a reading device for a long time, if at all.

So in this post I’d like to lay bare the benefits to reading some may not automatically think of when they consider sitting down with a good story.

Reading can make you live longer
In a study Health and Retirement study, it was found that adults 50 years and older who read for only 3.5 hours a week were likely to live two years longer than those who didn’t and were 23% less likely to die.

Fiction can improve empathy
Keith Oatley of the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at the University of Toronto found those who read fiction, especially literary fiction, outscored those in a test of empathy than those who did not read fiction. In his paper ‘Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds‘ Oatley found that engagement in the story, which includes the reader becoming emotionally involved and making inferences regarding the story and meeting complex characters which we may not meet in out day to day lives, people can improve their understanding of others.

Reducing stress through reading
A piece from The Telegraph newspaper reports Dr. David Lewis of the University of Sussex found that reading could reduce stress by up to 68%. After reading for only 6 minutes, subjects of Dr. Lewis’ study lowered their heart rate and eased muscle tension. They found that stress levels were lower than when they started the study. This reduction in stress was shown to be more efficient and quicker than, going for a walk (42% reduction), playing video games (21% reduction), drinking a cup of tea or coffee (54% reduction) and listening to music (61% reduction).

Audio books give a boost to gym sessions
Something I’ve found to work on a personal level is bringing a good audio book to the gym. Listening to music as you blast the calories is one thing but an audio book can suck you into its plot and block out everything else. I’ve pushed through more pain and discomfort by focusing on a story than I have with music. No research to provide for this one, apart from my own (o:

Image by Poodar Chu

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Something that made me chuckle (o:

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To Study or Not To Study?

Goals setting for year resolution and new project

A Masters degree in creative writing.

Advice on whether to study this is mixed at best. The verdict is that people simply don’t know whether you need some formal study to become a writer or better writer.

A nice piece I found on the Guardian.com describes what a lot of writers think about writing courses, that

A. That is cannot be taught

AND

B. That a course can only enhance what talent the writer naturally has, to begin with.

This might be so but there are other merits I believe to studying a writing course, whether it be taken in a University or otherwise. Firstly a formal course will expose you to other forms of writing and teach you how to work with a variation of the craft. By this, I mean writing poetry or script writing or non-fiction. Using the course I plan on taking with the Open University in Ireland as an example, I have the option to choose two different styles of writing. The choices are fiction, script, poetry, and non-fiction. Having the choice to tackle two styles teaches new techniques and perspectives on the craft itself. Pushing one’s skills into another area may change their writing, in general, for the better.

Another benefit to studying a course is the access you gain to not only a community of like minded people but experts in the area too, in the form of lecturers and tutors. Using the resources at hand on a writing course can only help when it comes to shaping the craft of writing and pushing it to the next level. Critical analysis and critique of your work can be tough to take. It can be even harder to find people to do it sometimes. Having assignments and people paid to read and work through them in depth can only help a writer become an even better writer.

There are other benefits to studying regardless of the subject. It can be liberating to feel you are gaining knowledge about a particular subject and bettering yourself in the process. I, myself am a life long learner and would happily study anything but, from now and for the next two years it’ll be the Masters of Creative Writing (o;

Two preparatory books I’ve been working through are recommended for the course I’m about to start. The first is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings and the second is Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings . I’ve found both books to be very comprehensive and the readings in each are excellent pieces to teach with. I’d recommend them to anyone who writes or is thinking about writing.

So, that’s it on the Masters in Creative Writing. I’ll update on how it is going but as always let me know what you think about writing courses below.

Until next time (o:

 

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POKEMON GO!! I’m addicted (o;

Pokemon GoSo, it’s been a while since I blogged about, well… anything. I have been writing here and there among other things such as work and blah, blah, blah…. Book 2 is still on the horizon, though. I’m still pushing towards it (o:

To start off with something I thought I’d never think I’d be writing about. I’m playing Pokemon Go. What started off as a “Download and see what all the fuss is about” scenario has turned into me walking around, phone in hand and scanning the immediate vicinity for virtual characters. It can be a pain in the backside doing this and I’m sure it’s a fad that will disappear like all fads but it has given me a new appreciation for the city I live in. That’s Dublin, Ireland for those who don’t know.

See, the aim it to collect Pokemon. Have them babble and evolve and all that fluffy stuff but what has struck me as genius is the use of specific locations of interest. For those not familiar with the game or app itself, there are locations called Pokestops. At these stops will be items that you can collect, poke balls, health potions etc. What caused me to appreciate this aspect of the game more is that these stops are landmarks and locations, some of which I never even knew were there nor did I know they had any significance. I’ve stopped at many of these locations and actually searched online more about them or read the information found at the landmark itself. I’ve come across historical landmarks, artworks even some enormous murals I never even gave a second look at and funky cafes or bars. I know people will say that a game such as this shouldn’t be the driving force to go out and explore the city you live in but in reality it is a new and exciting way of interacting with some of what your city has to offer. It gives some people a reason to get out and explore while enjoying something such as Pokemon. I would be delighted if more and more games or apps follow suit and get people outdoors and enjoying what’s on their doorsteps. Given the success of Pokemon Go I would not be surprised if a tsunami of similar game and apps are on their way.

So I would recommend Pokemon Go for the simple fact that it will have you look at areas of your city that you may have never thought to look at before.

A word of warning, though!!!
Be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t take risks by going to areas of, well… a poor reputation simply to catch Pokemon. Watch where you are walking and don’t play the game while driving or cycling. I’ve already seen this a few times. It’s just stupid. Not worth causing yourself an injury.

Well, until next time, enjoy and as always, let me know what you think below (o:

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The Muse in Everyday Life

PART-TIME NOVEL

Every writer has come to the point where things become muddy, sticky, and possibly monotonous. Is it writer’s block? Sure. Is it becoming bored with your own story? Maybe. Is it the dullness of life or a perpetual northern winter or a life event that arrives like a stray lightning bolt and saps you of any motivation to get to the page? Of course.

Do things that bring joy. Use that joy as fuel to write. Do things that bring joy. Use that joy as fuel to write.

As a writer I admit I have been there. All of us have. But what can you do to get out of that funk? How can you rise above yourself and this particular situation with your friend or family member that just won’t leave you?

I believe the answer lies in what can be called a Muse. It’s the age old question. What can the artist (in this case writer) do to keep, well…

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Reading Pratchett and Writing Crime.

pablo (17)
This week I’ve been busy getting back into the writing swing of things and attempting to read a little more.

Writing is going pretty well. Book 2 is running along smoothly and learning so much about social media by working the the 30 day Book Marketing challenge as mentioned in my previous post (Online Book Marketing)

Twitter has become something I really enjoy using now, thanks to the great information gleaned from the challenge. Even decided to give Instagram a go (davidjdelaney1 if anybody wants to connect)

My other goal this week is to read more. I’ve fallen into a non-reading rut and find my imagination is shot without it. So I hit a couple of second hand book stores and grabbed a few books to line up (I love browsing through secondhand books, some great early and unique editions to find). Picked up Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wintersmith’, which I’m reading at the moment, about 25% through. I’m enjoying it a lot. The late, great writer had a wonderful way with words and can bring a smile to your face most of the time. I picked up Hugh Howey’s ‘Sand’ novel. This is such a good find as it shows how far reaching an author, who started as an indie, can reach. Picking up his book in a charity shop in Dublin city center was pretty nice. Lastly, I found a copy of Dean Koontz ‘The City’. I’ve heard good things about it and I’m a Koontz fan so it’s win win.

Short one this week but if there is anything to add I’ll be sure to pop up another post.

What have you been reading and what have you picked up secondhand that’s made you smile?

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Online Book Marketing

30-Day-BRHM-Marketing-Challenge-with-Logo_Twitter-ShareableThe last few weeks has been pretty deep troughs but quite nice peaks.

To get to to the peaky part I’ve been working on a 30 day book marketing challenge through Bad Red Head Media (it was a recommendation from the fantastic author and person Sue Colleta, please head on over to http://www.suecoletta.com/)
It’s a week into the challenge and there is still time to jump on board the challenge at http://badredheadmedia.com/services/the-30-day-badredheadmedia-book-marketing-challenge/ but so far it has been really great to work through twitter and the many tools available to manage it. I’ve learned a lot in regards to sharing content efficiently, managing follows and unfollows, using twitter to promote my fiction without the dreadful ‘PLEASE BUY MY BOOK’ tweets that fill most of our feeds. One of the main aspects I’ve likes about this has been the focus on building relationships on social media that not only highlight my fiction but lead to better and more meaningful interaction online.
I would highly recommend following the link above and checking it out.

Now, the word count. It’s been okay-ish. Managed 7,300 this week with a zero word count on Sunday. Would like to get to 10k this week or even double the number but we’ll see how it goes.

Recently I’ve had a longing to write short stories again. There is something about the format that really interests me and keeps me coming back to it time and time again. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know this how my writing journey started. Reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, he really advocate for the format and this struck a cord in me. The problem is I suppose is that the format does not earn much money and magazines are so inundated with submissions the likelihood of being published is slim… still something I like about the idea of writing them though!

Book 2 of my Dean Cornell series is coming along nicely. Have managed to write the ending already. One of those moments that simply came to me as I was day dreaming about something completely unrelated. I’m pretty happy with the results though. My Science Fiction story has stagnated a little. I familiar with the genre to read but writing it can be a tough one. Either way, the challenge is well underway so all that it left to do it continue until there is something worthwhile to show for it.

So, it’s back to my scrivener file and time to get that 10k down.

Let me know how you are going and as always thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

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